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with the Liturgy itself, the forms which were its earliest and natural vesture, begotten of Utility but born of Art, and nourished by her in the Church home for centuries—could these be found we might hope to have that which in spirit as in form would be best qualified to clothe the text of the Liturgy to-day. The careful, unbroken culture of many generations cannot fail to develop capacity and character. We would expect much from such birth and breeding. Nor are we disappointed when we find and study them, though to do so we must lift the stones which modern haste, superficiality and contempt for the past have ruthlessly cast upon the tombs of a well-nigh forgotten age and art.
Such study, however, is by no means a mere archæological inquiry.* It is, indeed, perhaps quite a prevalent apprehension that these early “Gregorian " or “Plain Song" melodies are simply the curious remains of an undeveloped, incoherent and rather barbaric musical system, without true artistic content or value for persons of modern sensibility and intelligence. They are supposed to represent a certain period of musical transition, a chrysalis stage, if you please, from which the freer and nobler life of modern music emerged, leaving the old cocoon as a matter of curious study to a few students of musical history. The history of Art scarcely reveals a more ignorant misconception than this. The Gregorian Chant certainly differs vastly from modern measured music, with its major and minor scales, its chromatic melodies, sustaining harmonies and measured rhythm. But it must not be judged by standards of value correct enough when applied to the latter. Gregorian music is one thing; modern music is quite another. Each is complete in itself and has its own sphere. To understand Plain Song
* In this Preface occasional use has been made of material embodied by one of the editors in papers read by him before the Second and Third Convocations of Church Musicians upon - The Gregorian Element in Church Music” and “ The Music of the Communion Service," the first of which was printed in Essays on Church I/usic, No 8.
aright we must know its characteristics, learn its purpose and breathe its spirit.*
We find it to be distinctively unisonous in character. There are no "parts" or "voices ''; the chant is simply melody sung in unison, without the conception of harmony, upon which all modern music is based. It is not written in the modern major or minor keys, but in some twelve scales or “modes," each of which has a distinctive character by reason of a distinctive succession of intervals and a characteristic relation of “dominant' to "final,” which again are not to be confounded with the “dominant” and “tonic" of modern keys. It is rhythmically free, and bears no suggestion of bars and measured rhythm, which Carl Merz has declared to be ever "the most striking trait of secularism in music.” It knows no existence in and of itself and apart from the text of the Liturgy, and herein displays its chief distinction while it reveals its supreme purpose. Over against the cardinal principle of the Renaissance, “ Art for Art's sake,” it stands for the distinctively Christian principle of “ Art for Worship's sake.” † It has but one absorbing desire
* “It is this want of theoretical knowledge which makes so many, even among the upholders of Gregorian Music, regard the matter as a question of taste rather than of principle. People are supposed to have a predilection for “mediæval” music as they might have for old china, or the paintings of the pre-Raffaelite masters ..." On the contrary “in adopting this particular style of music as her authorized ‘song 'the Church has ever acted on principle, the principle that beauty is not an abstract quality, but consists in the fitness of the instrument for the end designed.” (Walker, Plain Song Reason Why. Preface, p. v.)
| Interesting examples of the insistence upon this principle are to be found in the Service Books of the Reformation period. Thus Eler, “ Profecto enim, ad veræ et in veteri Ecclesia probatæ Musicæ finem assequendum, ut non aures solum titillet, sed simul pectoris fibras tamquam chordas tangat, et motus divinos verbis ac sententiis subjectis congruentes, in corde accendat ..." (Cantica Sacra, Præfatio, p. 5.) Melanchthon in his interesting Preface to the Psalmodia of Lucas Lossius declares that God confer. red the gift of music upon man chiefly in order that it might be the means of preserving and propagating Divine truth. “ Sed non dubium est, præ
to be permitted to clothe the sacred text in reverent beauty.* Untrammelled by excessive external requirements of “form,” it spends itself in the service of the holy words, entering into deepest sympathy with their every shade of meaning and bearing praise and petition upon the waves of its noble melody before the very throne of God. It is a veritable “song-speech,” ever subordinate, first liturgical, then musical, truly a devout worshipper and ministering servant in the Temple of Worship.
Such, then, is the character of this Liturgical Music of the Church, indeed a true music of the Church, native to it, naturally and spontaneously emerging from its own life, and not, as so much modern art, unsympathetic and unknowing, an application from without; pre-eminently devotional, elevating, reverently subordinate to the text and yet clothing it in forms of unsurpassed melodic beauty; yielding with the freedom of natural declamation to the rhythm of the words—the very “breath of the Liturgy.” It comes down to us through the centuries as a precious inheritance from an age when rude and ignorant barbarism characterized nearly everything outside of the innermost circles of the Church itself-a parallel to those marvelously beautiful blooms of a decaying age, the Collects of the Western Church. It formed the treasure house, the “Sacred Writings of the Church Music of the Middle Ages," as Proske beautifully said, “from which the pericopes for the true churchly style must be taken;"† it was the foundation upon which the superstructure of a later and different musical system with a different spirit and purpose was to be built ; # but it stands before us to-day, not a crude, un
cipuam causam esse, ut doctrina de Deo carminibus comprehensa propagari latius possit et diutius conservari.”
* Otto Kade calls it “vox verbi divini." (Luther Codex, p. 23 )
Ambros says : “ Music has waxed strong from the mighty vitality of Gregorian Chant; she has been formed on the base of its melodies, from the first rude attempts of the Organum, of Diaphony, and Faux Bourdons,
developed or transitional nondescript, but a completed, fully developed art-form hoary with ages and hallowed with centuries of holy service, but with the vigor and purity of a never-fading youth.*
It is therefore not essentially ancient, but rather essentially ecclesiastical. The quality of absolute churchliness is its price. less possession. Its centuries of unbroken service at once attest its supreme fitness, and have solidified and strengthened its structure. Redolent of the prayers and praises of countless generations of fellow believers, it also possesses a wonderful and peculiar power of molding the mind and will of even the casual hearer in a devotional and reverential cast, and of impressing and deepening the meaning of the sacred words it bears.
What form of modern music can boast qualifications so exceptional? What effort of organist or musician of to-day, however beautiful in itself, can meet the test it bears unmoved? I
down to her highest perfection in the Palestrina style.” (Geschichte der Musik, vol. ii, p. 67.)
*“ Die gregorianische Kunst ist ebenso klassisch wie die Polyphonie des 16. Jahrhunderts, jene für eine absolut einstimmige, diese für die polyphone Umkleidung des liturgischen Textes.” (Wagner, Einführung in die gregorianischen Melodien, p. 2.)
† The subtle, persuasive influence which all Art constantly exerts may not be overlooked. It is never absolutely passive. Jakob speaks of it as engaged in a ceaseless service. “ Auch die Kunst dienet, und dienet entweder Gott oder der Welt, dem Ewigen oder Vergänglichen, dem Geiste oder dem Fleische.” For development of the idea of real Christian influence ( sacramentality) in true Christian Art, see especially the Introduction to The Symbolism of Churches and Church Ornaments, a translation of the First Book of Durandus' Rationale Divinorum Officiorum, by Neale and Webb, Scribners, 1893, as well as Jakob, Die Kunst im Dienste der Kirche. Krutschek's discussion of the influence of music in the Church, and of the criteria by which true Church music must be determined is most excellent. (Die Kirchenmusik nach dem Willen der Kirche.) On this also see Bachmann, Grundlagen und Grundfragen, etc.
| Baini's glowing tribute to the character and worth of the Plain Song melodies is interesting, if extravagant.“ Let the musicians oppose my asserYet at the very present time almost our only acquaintance with the system as a Church consists of a very slight and superficial knowledge of the Psalm Tones, and these often in a sadly diluted and adulterated form. It may seriously be questioned, indeed, whether a dozen of our organists in all America can sing even these eight or nine short melodies from memory.
Why is this? He who would build worthily in Literature, Art, Science, or Theology cannot hope to do so without a thorough acquaintance with the principles and achievements of his particular field in the past. The musician must know Beethoven and Bach, the painter must study the masters, the author the classics, the philosopher the philosophers, the theologian the theologians. None can hope to ignore the genius,
tion, and combat it ; they are at liberty to do so. I do not fear, notwithstanding, to affirm that the ancient melodies of the Gregorian Chant are inimitable. We may copy from them, adapt them, Heaven knows how, to other words, but to make new ones comparable to the first will never be accomplished. I will not tell how that many of these melodies derive their origin from S. Damasus (367), S. Gelasius (492), and above all from S. Gregory the Great (590 ),--all three illustrious Pontiffs who were enlightened from on high in their work. I will not tell how others have come to us from men not less eminent for their holiness than for their learning ; monks who were bright lights of the eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth centuries. And how did they prepare for their work when they set about to compose their chants? We are not uninformed. They made themselves ready, and strengthened themselves by prayer and holy abstinence. I will not tell what countless records attest that in assaying this kind of composition these great men were penetrated with the nature and character of the words that they appropriated to the circumstances in which these compositions were to be chanted. I will content myself by saying this, that from all these precautions united, there resulted, in the Gregorian Chant of other times, I know not what of the admirable and inimitable, an ineffable delicacy of expression, a touching pathos, a ravishing sweetness, always fresh, always new, always pure, always lovely; while modern melodies are dull, insignificant, inharmonious, cold, sickly.” (Memoirs of Palestrina, vol. ii, p. 81.) Helmore, referring to this encomium and succeeding denunciation, uses the following forceful language concerning much of the modern “sacred” music, especially many modern Hymn-tunes: “To me most modern tunes are altogether what they are described by him—unmusical, cold.